Achyuta Rao, a prominent child rights’ activist, died of Covid-19 at the age of 58 years, at a private hospital in Hyderabad, Telangana. He also suffered from diabetes and other ailments, which factored into a lower chance of survival.
He worked across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to help children get out of child labour and captivity. Also, he was the founder and the President of Balala Hakkula Sangam, an organisation that worked to protect children.
Achyuta Rao – strong-willed activism
Often, Rao worked hard and alone to fight for the rights of kids. Sometimes, he even stood up to biological parents of the children. Apart from that, he always fought strongly against politicians and child traffickers, no matter how powerful they were. Whether the children were caught in the cycle of work and fear, or were in literal captivity in factories, he did his best to get them out. In fact, he even worked against corporal punishment in schools.
In 2019, he filed a complaint with the Child Welfare Committee against a special officer acting as principal for abusing children after they allegedly stole a phone. Moreover, the officer forced the children to sit under the sun for an hour and did not allow them to have breakfast.
Another case is that of Aradhana, a 13-year-old girl who died of cardiac arrest after fasting for 68 days. Supposedly, it was tradition. However, Achyuta Rao believed that such a young person should not face such a life-threatening tradition.
Balala Hakkula Sangam
Rao’s organisation, Balala Hakkula Sangam, worked beyond protecting children. Along with his wife, Anuradha, and their associates, they educated children and tried providing them with a better life. Moreover, they helped them move past the traumatic experiences of their lives.
Once, the organisation followed up on a tip that about 150 children were being trafficked. They verified identities of at least 80, out of which 17 were below the age of 18 years old.
Rise for the need of activists like Rao during pandemic
After the pandemic began, rates of crimes against women and children shot up. Moreover, child marriages increased as well. Activists like Achyuta Rao worked hard to help these children and to provide them with a better life.
Achyuta Rao left his mark and a path for others to follow.
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